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Executive Summary: Secrets of Writing B2B Copy

Executive Summary: Secrets of Writing B2B Copy

October 9, 2014 | By Nancy Ross Brewer | No Comments

Secrets of Writing High performance B2B copyHave you ever wondered whether B2B copywriting is a good opportunity — a “real six-figure opportunity?” Wonder no more.

B2B Writing Success’s lead expert, Steve Slaunwhite, said a resounding “Yes!” on a recent teleconference. During the call, Steve explained why the opportunities in B2B copywriting are nearly unlimited, and expanding every year.

As Steve said, “there’s no better time to be a B2B copywriter.” To find out why, and to learn about a new opportunity to work with Steve to develop your B2B copywriting skills, play the webinar here. Charlotte Crockett introduced Steve Slaunwhite, and led the teleconference.

Who is Steve Slaunwhite?

On his website, Steve describes himself as, “a marketing expert, award-winning copywriter, best-selling author (well, nearly), and wannabee cool-guy skateboarder.”

He is a sought-after speaker — presenter — trainer — and coach, and B2B Writing Success’s lead B2B expert. The author of the AWAI program, Secrets of Writing High-Performance B2B Copy, Steve was the lead expert for the B2B Copy Intensive in Phoenix. Find his bio on www.steveslaunwhite.com.

Is B2B Really Different from B2C?

There are similarities, and differences. A good start is to understand Steve’s definition of “Business-to-Business,” or B2B:

  • The short definition? B2B companies sell products or services to other companies, not directly to consumers.
  • The longer definition is more revealing and more important to copywriters. Steve used an analogy, “the $20 million toaster.”

If a consumer wants a toaster, she’ll “research” the toasters available, then go to Walmart and buy a toaster. That’s B2C, or Business-to-Consumer. Not a lot to that transaction, really.

But, how did that toaster get onto the shelves at Walmart? There were maybe 100 B2B transactions involved. Think of the companies the manufacturer dealt with to produce a single toaster:

  • Steel company
  • Design-engineering firm
  • Electrical engineering firm
  • Packaging design firm
  • A sales force-training firm
  • And probably many others

Hundreds of thousands of companies sell to each other; together they make up the B2B market.

How Large is the B2B Market? Is There Enough Work for More Freelance B2B Copywriters?

Steve has been in the B2B copywriting business for many years. He trains others, and meets a lot of marketing professionals.

In-house marketing professionals cannot keep up with the demand for copywriting! Steve hears often that marketing directors have difficulty finding enough good B2B copywriters, and always have project backlogs.

B2B companies need masses of marketing materials. Even companies with large marketing staffs, have difficulty keeping up with demand. This is great for freelancers!

In North America, there are 300,000 medium-size companies (50+ employees). A B2B copywriter needs 3-5 “foundation” clients to stay fully occupied. With more than 5.7 million companies in the United States alone, you will never run out of prospects.

Is Writing B2B Copy Boring? Is it Always Complex, or Very Technical?

In a nutshell, no! That’s a common misunderstanding …

There are some highly technical, complex B2B products. But most are not technical, and not difficult to understand.

As an example, Steve talked of a client who sold training to dentists: he conducted sales, customer service, and basic business training for dentists. That’s pretty straightforward, and easy to understand.

The writing style for B2B marketing copy is more direct, and employs less hype than for B2C, but is still conversational. The projects are just as much fun — if not more so.

B2B companies produce a wide range of marketing materials, many more than in the consumer marketplace. Many are similar:

  • Advertising
  • Social media and blog posts
  • Print materials
    • Brochures
    • Sell sheets
    • Trade Show handouts
  • Web pages
  • Emails
  • Newsletters

B2B companies are the largest producers of web materials. “They are all over online marketing.” And, B2B projects are often on a larger scale (think UPS).

There are also special types of projects in the B2B arena: case studies and white papers.

  • Case studies, or “customer success stories,” are pleasurable to write. They usually involve interviewing a client’s customer and writing about the success achieved with your client’s product.
  • White papers are unique to B2B, and can be very lucrative. Peter Bowerman (The Well-Fed Writer) called white papers “articles on steroids.” They are not always complex, but are educational pieces created for many industries.

Is There a Type of Copywriting Work Particularly Popular in B2B Right Now?

Yes! We’re in the middle of a content marketing revolution. White papers, case studies, e-newsletters, e-books, and journal articles — you name it, B2B companies need you to research it and write it.

Marketing professionals tell Steve, “there is a continuous churn … they always feel behind … never on top of the need for content.” Couple that with difficulty finding good copywriters, and that’s great news for freelancers!

Persuasive sales copy is also huge right now.

You can get your foot in the door of a B2B client in your niche market, become part of their team, do a good job, and become their “go-to” content writer.

What About the Process — Is it Different for B2B Copywriting?

The process is similar in many ways. You’ll have a discussion with a prospect to discuss their needs, submit a proposal with a quoted price, get the job, and get started.

After gathering more facts, you’ll do the work and submit it for review. After a bit of back-and-forth for revisions, you’ll submit the final version, and your invoice.

There are a few differences you should expect:

  • B2B companies often work in teams, which can add complexity. Be sure you understand who has the ultimate decision authority.
  • You will most often deal with one person, not a large committee.
  • B2B companies tend to move quickly, on reviews.
  • Most sales letters are short, no more than one to two pages.
  • Personal factors drive consumer purchases. In the B2B world, you deal with a “split personality buyer.” Business buyers are motivated by both business and personal reasons. You must address both.
  • In B2B purchasing decisions, product features play a larger role. “Clearly present all the ‘nuts-and-bolts’ features without flowery language, and tout the benefits.”
  • Not all B2B sales are “high-stakes” transactions, but many are. Building belief, credibility, and trust are important in B2B materials. Case studies and testimonials are often used.

What’s a Realistic Income Expectation?

The bad news first: B2B copywriting is not a million-dollar opportunity, like you hear about from the top B2C writers.

What’s the good news? There are probably more $100K+ B2B copywriters. $100K is realistically achievable for good B2B copywriters. You don’t have to be a superstar.

What Do I Need to Know to Become a B2B Copywriter?

Steve recommends that B2B copywriters start as generalists, capable of writing the full spectrum of marketing materials. Be versatile at first, and specialize later.

Steve knows many successful B2B copywriters who started as generalists, and now specialize.

What’s The Best Way to Get Started?

Steve offered two clear suggestions:

  1. “Become a really good B2B copywriter.” Learn the craft, read a lot of copy, write a lot, and practice. Remember, B2B companies often struggle to find good writers. Become one, and you can do well.
  1. Specialize in a niche market, so your marketing efforts become focused. Choose a niche, gain experience producing all sorts of B2B marketing materials, and then specialize or change niches if you like.

What’s New With Steve’s AWAI B2B Programs?

If you want to learn B2B Copywriting, the most comprehensive program available is Steve’s Secrets of Writing High-Performance B2B Copy.

There is no better program on the market, to build B2B copywriting knowledge and skills. It’s designed for self-study, at your own pace.

Steve announced an addition to the B2B program lineup, the new Live Companion Series, to accompany his popular Secrets program.

(If you’d like information about the next Live Companion Series, contact Member Services at 866-879-2924.)

  • B2B Writing Success’s lead expert, Steve Slaunwhite, explainedwhy the opportunities in B2B copywriting are nearly unlimited, and expanding every year.
  • “There’s no better time to be a B2B copywriter.”
  • B2B companies sell products or services to other companies, not directly to consumers.
  • There are hundreds of thousands of companies that sell to each other. Together they make up the B2B market.
  • B2B companies:
    • Are large producers of marketing materials.
    • Often have difficulty keeping up with demand. This is great for freelancers!
    • Produce a wide range of marketing materials, many more than in the consumer marketplace. Most are similar, but case studies and white papers are almost exclusively done for B2B.
    • Are the largest producers of web materials. They “are all over online marketing.”
  • The writing style for B2B marketing copy is more direct, employs less hype than B2C, and is conversational. The projects are fun!
  • We’re in the middle of a content marketing revolution. White papers, case studies, e-newsletters, e-books, and journal articles — you name it, B2B companies need you to research it and write it.
  • In B2B copywriting, you must persuade a business buyer by addressing both personal and business motivations.
  • In B2B purchasing decisions, product features play a big role; so emphasize both features and benefits. “Clearly present the ‘nuts-and-bolts’ features without flowery language, and tout the benefits.”
  • B2B is a true six-figure freelance opportunity. $100K is realistically achievable for good (not even superstar) B2B copywriters.
  • Steve recommends that B2B copywriters start as generalists, capable of writing the full spectrum of marketing materials. Be versatile at first, and specialize later if you wish.
  • Steve offered two suggestions for getting started in B2B copywriting:
    • Learn the craft. Learn how to write all sorts of B2B marketing materials.
    • Focus on a particular niche market, to pinpoint your marketing efforts.
  • If you want to learn B2B Copywriting, the most comprehensive program available is Steve’s Secrets of Writing High-Performance B2B Copy.
  • Steve announced an addition to the B2B program lineup, a Live Companion Series, to accompany his popular Secrets program. (If you’d like information about the next Live Companion Series, contact Member Services at 866-879-2924.)

 

 

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Nancy Ross Brewer

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